An appeal for justice

April 12, 2008
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Students,

As many of you know, the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday announced its intention to re-try my father, former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, on miscellaneous charges of “public corruption” immediately on the heels of U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab’s declaration of a mistrial following the government’s first such effort. The prosecutor not only wasted no time in doing so, but did not even take the customary and legally prudent step of polling the jurors to determine how they were split.

Without getting into my own thoughts on the original or ongoing motives for this prosecution, I feel it important to point out that this jury of my father’s peers, following nearly two months of testimony by 44 prosecution witnesses, and despite the fact that the defense did not find it necessary to call any witnesses to the stand, were unable to return a guilty verdict on even a single count — and this despite the fact that  they’d extended their deliberations, under the judge’s orders, far past the point of deadlock. By any reasonable standard, the case against my father would appear to lack substance at this point in time.

I’m writing to you as a son, as a Western Pennsylvanian, and as an American, to ask you to share your own opinions on this matter with the editors of our leading local daily newspapers, as well as with U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan herself. While Ms. Buchanan will not be easy to dissuade from her chosen course of action, there is reason to believe that, faced with ample public pressure, she will have no choice but to consider her office’s alternatives. And in a society (and region) faced with the multiple blights of gang warfare, drug trafficking, child pornography and other criminal activities, there is no question she has some “alternatives” to pursue.

By contrast, if a second trial is permitted to proceed, as scheduled, on May 27, the costs to both my father (financial, professional and otherwise) and to the taxpayers of Western Pennsylvania (already conservatively estimated at over $200,000) will continue to climb.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, please make your voice heard by writing to one or more of the addresses listed below. The time to act is now, before new charges are filed.

On behalf of my father, my family, and the cause of justice, I thank you.

Ben Wecht

p.s. For those unfamiliar with the case, here are some pertinent links to recent news items:

Retry Wecht? No (
Some jurors skeptical of case against Wecht (
The Wecht case: pronounce it dead (
It’s over: There is no need for a second Wecht trial (
Letters to the Editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
34 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA  15222
FAX: 412-263-2014
(250-word maximum)

Letters to the Editor
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
D.L. Clark Building
503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA  15212
FAX: 412-320-7965
(200-word maximum)

The Honorable Mary Beth Buchanan
United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
U.S. Post Office & Courthouse, Suite 400
Seventh Avenue and Grant Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(NO maximum)

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